"This sure is beautiful, isn't it, Mom?" I asked. I wasn't quite sure if it was beautiful, so I was hoping she'd tell me. These mountains didn't do all the inspiring gymnastics of the really tall mountains that blocked the desert. They were kind of nubby, and their only trick was to trip and fall right into the ocean with a little splash.
She reached into her dirty running clothes from the day before and pulled out her lemony grey sports bra with the dinosaurs on it. "This will work!" she said. "Eew, it smells," I said as she pulled it over my head and started to force my paws through the holes where her front legs usually go. "And it's wet."
When Mom wasn’t hypnotized by the Bahama-colored lake, her eyes were fixed on the mountains, trying to puzzle out how someone as scared of heights as she is could still climb all the way to the top. Meanwhile, I chased critters over rocks and logs with the grace of a hurdler.
“What is the difference between rock climbing, and mountaineering, and hiking? Like, if you wanted to climb that mountain up there, you’d have to get up all that scree.” She pointed at one of the steep fangs, and the thick gums of rocks and sand at the bottom. “Well, you’ve got to do your research. People will post what approaches are loose or dangerous, and what routes are safest and so on.” “Well, what if you were on the right trail and you slip anyway?"
Mom said, "DON'T!!!" and Karen froze. Then she stood up and walked right over to the sink and started washing her hands. I didn't know what happened, but it made me feel very lonely to have my friend Karen treat me like she didn't even know me all of a sudden.
"Are spiders very good at planning ahead?" I asked. "No, I guess not," Mom said. "Nor are they good at learning from their mistakes. The Eency Weency Spider didn't learn anything from his experience, he just climbed up the spout again."
I turned and saw a man climbing the rocks with a walking packpack beside him. What the... I thought as I saw who was under the packpack: It was a tiny little Boston Terrier barely the size of the packpack he was carrying.
Even though the trail was the same, we were very different. Mom had just claimed her independence and was still recovering from her revolutionary war when we were on this trail last year.
It takes a lot of brain space to keep track of all the ways that you've been unlucky, and while you're busy doing that there's no time to notice all the things you can do to make your situation better. If Mom were a clever human she would have realize that the rocks were had been walking on were perfect for building Karens to point the way, and that The Witch had lots of ways to keep track of our path so that we could find it again. But the heebie jeebies had made Mom stupid